Women of the Bible – Jochebed

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Every year “The Ten Commandments” is shown at Easter. This is confusing to me. Wouldn’t it be better to show “Ben Hur – A story of the Christ” at Easter? Ah well, such is the wisdom of the TV programmers. Anyway, watching “The Ten Commandments” prepped me to write on Moses’ moms. It took four women to get Moses from infancy to adulthood. Let’s take a look at them all.

Hebrew Midwives – Shiphrah and Puah

Please Read: Exodus 1:15-22 (below)

Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah (means prolific or procreate) and the other Puah (means childbearing or joy of parents), “When you help the Hebrew women give birth, observe them as they deliver. If the child is a son, kill him, but if it’s a daughter, she may live.” The Hebrew midwives, however, feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this and let the boys live?”

The midwives said to Pharaoh, “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before a midwife can get to them.” So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied and became very numerous. Since the midwives feared God, He gave them families. Pharaoh then commanded all his people: “You must throw every son born to the Hebrews into the Nile, but let every daughter live.”

The midwives disobey the king and lie about it and God blesses them!?! Is God saying civil disobedience and lying are okay? Peter and the apostles were told to stop preaching and their reply was:

“We must obey God rather than men.”

The normal way we operate is to tell the truth(not lie) and to obey governmental authorities. God puts rules in place for our protection and our blessing. The government has received delegated authority from God and we are commanded to obey. However, when the government defies God’s law – telling us to murder babies – we are called to obey God rather than man. Shiphrah and Puah feared God and saved Moses’ life.

Jochebed – “The Lord is Glory”

Please Read: Exodus 2:1-10 (below), Exodus 6:20, Numbers 26:59, Hebrews 11:23

Jochebed is the first PERSON in the Bible whose name is compounded with the name of Jehovah God. We don’t actually get her name right away. She is just called a Levite woman.

Now a man from the family of Levi married a Levite woman.The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son; when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with asphalt and pitch. She placed the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. Then his sister stood at a distance in order to see what would happen to him.

Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe at the Nile while her servant girls walked along the riverbank. Seeing the basket among the reeds, she sent her slave girl to get it. When she opened it, she saw the child—a little boy, crying. She felt sorry for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrew boys.”

Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Should I go and call a woman from the Hebrews to nurse the boy for you?”

“Go,” Pharaoh’s daughter told her. So the girl went and called the boy’s mother. Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse him for me, and I will pay your wages.” So the woman took the boy and nursed him. When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

Godly Mother

 Jochebed was a godly woman – one of the most important mothers who ever lived. She raised not one, but three, godly children: Moses the deliverer and lawgiver, Aaron the first high priest and Miriam, a leader and poet. She only gets to be with Moses for a few years – some say weaning took place at 3 years of age, others say 7 years of age – but she implanted in him a faith in the one true God. (Google “first three years” to see how important they are.)
“The objective of parenting is to take the raw material with which our babies arrive on this earth and then gradually mold it into mature, responsible, and God-fearing adults.” –  Dr. James Dobson

Commentaries like to go on and on about how daring Jochebed was to hide Moses for three months. How did she do it? Wait a minute. Only the boy babies were to be killed, so….there were plenty of girl babies around crying and screaming and toddling about. Maybe at three months old she simply could no longer hide the fact that Moses was a boy. Maybe a neighbor saw her changing his diaper and she knew she would soon be reported to the authorities.

Whatever the circumstance was that led Jochebed to put her beautiful son in the crocodile-infested waters, we know it required courage, faith and overcoming fear. Hebrews 11 commends Moses’ parents for their actions. They prayed. They planned. They trusted God. That’s a good pattern for any mother to follow.

God has such a sense of humor and He rewards BIG FAITH. Unlike the Hebrew midwives who had to disobey, Jochebed actually obeys the edict to put all the boy children in the river. She just adds a floating basket, and trusts God to steer the “ark” to its final destination. She is rewarded. God not only saves her son’s life, He places Moses in the palace and Jochebed gets paid for taking care of her own kid! What could be better than that?

Pharoah’s Daughter

We don’t know whether Jochebed came to Pharoah’s house to nurse Moses or if he remained under guard with Jochebed in Goshen. Scripture would seem to indicate the latter. “When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son.”

Pharoah’s daughter takes over from here. We know she was a kind, compassionate woman. She was the only thing standing between Moses and certain death. She showed up at the right place at the right time and had mercy on an infant set adrift in a basket – showing God can use anyone, even a woman who does not believe in Him, to accomplish His will. Because of Pharoah’s daughter, Moses lived the first 40 years of his life in the palace. “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was might in words and in deeds.” (Acts 7:22)

Two women – a slave and a princess – preserved the life of Israel’s future deliverer
and so preserved the entire Jewish race.
Ann Spangler

How is Jesus involved in the story of Jochebed?

Like Mary, Jochebed gave birth to a special child. Like Mary, Jochebed had to protect her son from a ruler’s edict – Herod ordered all the baby boys killed just like Pharaoh. God supernaturally protected both Moses and Jesus – the law giver and the fulfillment of the law.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Scripture says three times that Moses was special, beautiful. Why do you think Pharaoh’s daughter decided to keep Moses?
  2. What about all the other baby boys who didn’t make it? Where was God when they were being killed?
  3. In what area are you failing to trust God in regards to the lives of your children?

Prayer by Ann Spangler:

Father, thank you for the gift and calling of motherhood. Help me to remember that my love for my children is merely a reflection of your own love for them. With that in mind, give me grace to surrender my anxiety (and courage to trust your path for them). Replace (my fears) with a sense of trust and calm as I learn to depend on You for everything. Amen

The Bottom Line

Things I learned from Jochebed: Who can find a godly mother? She is far more precious than jewels.


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  1. Pingback: Women of the Bible – Hannah | the Word chick

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